In the Northern side of the Nevada state, government institutions have started using blockchain technology and Ethereum’s smart contracts for the issuance of birth and marriage certificates, sources claim.
Reports suggest that since its introduction in April 2018, the program has issued approximately 950 digital marriage certificates to couples via computers or smart phones in the Washoe County. Similarly, other nearby counties are also looking to imitate the technology being used for issuing digital marriage certificates.
Since the marriage certificate is not any regular document to mess with, it requires advanced protection as the risk of the document being hacked or manipulated increases with its digital presence. For this purpose, smart contracts by Ethereum are used in order to avoid hacking of such documents.
Smart contract is basically an agreement between two parties executed in certain lines of codes that exist on a decentralized blockchain network. This minimizes the chances of any agreement or document being hacked and manipulated as it is present on a decentralized network, which means that all the actions performed on the network can be seen and observed by all the members present on the network. Thus, these smart contracts by Ethereum guarantee the safety of documents like birth and marriage certificates to some extent.
Philip Dhingra, co-founder of Titan Seal, when asked about this initiation said:
April 10th was the first time a person got (a digital marriage certificate from Washoe County)… The person had no idea that it was part of a pilot program.
He told the sources that the very first individual to receive a digital marriage certificate from the Washoe County did not know that he was basically the first one to be introduced to this new process and since then, hundreds of others have followed. Mr. Dhingra also believed that using smart contracts for this new program was a wise step to reduce the chances of hacking of such documents.
Furthermore, the Washoe County also posted on its official website about the safety that comes with the involvement of smart contracts in this project, saying:
There is no central authority or computer to compromise; instead there is a worldwide network of thousands of computers that work together to protect the authenticity of transactions on the network, this is one of the most secure methods of storing information that has ever been invented, and it has already spawned a renaissance in parts of the computer and financial industries. It is much more secure than our current method of paper certification (embossing, stamp, and signature), which is the gold standard of paper certification, but can still theoretically be forged.
Washoe County officials explained on the County’s official website about the reliability of including smart contracts in the digital certificates to make them safer. The County officials believe that the traditional way of presenting documents that is, paper certification has more chances of being forged than that of digital certificates on smart contracts due to their presence on a decentralized network, which has also proved to be useful in other industries as well for better and safer record keeping.
Mr. Dhingra also said that people are happier with the new way of presenting legal documents as they do not have to wait in lines and for days for them to receive the document but instead, they can now get those documents via email in less than 24 hours.
While many vote favor of this new way presenting documents, some believe that the traditional way of certification should be continued especially in case of marriage certificates as marriages are a personal matter between two individuals or families therefore, they should be given such documents personally rather than their availability of a blockchain network. Similarly, there are people who claim that they do not use email so they do not want the digital certificates and prefer the traditional way of certification, reported by Hunter Halcomb, a technician at the Washoe County systems.
Nonetheless, the certification via emails has become popular even outside the state of Nevada because many couples who visit Reno for their marriages come from outside the state of Nevada and thus, they are presented with their marriage certificates through emails.
This new way of certification has faced multiple challenges on its way to execution but the digital certification program has been accepted by government agencies across the US, claims Halcomb keeping in mind the way it has provided safety to legal documents and contributed towards safe record keeping using smart contracts by Ethereum.